An African Union official says the organization’s Mission to Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL) has launched a cooperation initiative with countries in the Sahel to combat terrorism as part of efforts to stabilize the region.
DAKAR, SENEGAL — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says schools in Mali have been training cotton farmers about how to use natural substances in order to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides by 92 percent, while maintaining normal crop yields. The natural pesticides also may save money.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that the introduction of new pest-control methods to cotton growers in Mali “nearly eliminated” the use of toxic pesticides.
SAG-NIONIOGO CAMP, BURKINA FASO — As hundreds of thousands of displaced Malians begin returning to their homes in the north, post-conflict ethnic reconciliation remains a key challenge for officials in Bamako.
But at the Sag-Nioniogo refugee camp in central Burkina Faso, where an ethnic patchwork of uprooted northern Malians have found ways to get past the tensions and live in harmony, divisions over the question of an independent northern Mali persist.
Malians rank peace and stability as top priorities for the country's next president. They go to the polls Sunday amid tensions in the far northern town of Kidal. It has been occupied by the Tuareg separatist group, the MNLA, since a French-led military intervention against jihadist groups in northern Mali began in January.
What to do about Kidal?
Mali's 27 presidential candidates have tried to strike a delicate balance, pledging to get tough on the country's vast security challenges while fostering reconciliation.
ABUJA, NIGERIA — West African leaders have called for $25 million in international aid to help secure the upcoming elections in Mali. As Guinea-Bissau also prepares for elections, leaders want an end to international sanctions on that country.
Heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, are meeting this week in the Nigerian capital ahead of elections in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, two countries in turmoil.
DAKAR, SENEGAL — As the rainy season begins in West and Central Africa, meteorological experts are warning of above average rainfall, flash floods and overflowing rivers in the western Sahel. Aid agencies say that early preparation is key to reducing the risks associated with such natural disasters, as well as building up people’s resilience to deal with the aftermath.
Experts from the African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) say that rainfall in West and Central Africa could exceed 130 percent of normal precipitation this year.
Last updated on: June 12, 2013 7:06 PM
A team of officials from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is in Mali to assess the security and political situation in the approach to the country’s July 28 presidential election.
Sonny Ugoh, the ECOWAS communications director, said the fact finding mission is part of the regional bloc’s plans to restore constitutional rule in Mali and maintain its territorial integrity.
“This is consistent with the requirement of our protocol on democracy and good governance…,” Ugoh said.
NIAMEY — Niger is offering cash rewards to anyone reporting a case of Guinea worm as part of efforts to permanently eradicate the parasitic disease in the impoverished West African nation, the health ministry said.
Though it once afflicted around 3.5 million people annually across Asia and Africa, according to the U.S.-based Carter Center, Guinea worm disease is now on the verge of being eradicated worldwide.
The ongoing conflict in Mali has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. The toll can be devastating as families are uprooted and forced to live in circumstances that they are not used to.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDMC, found for women and girls, it is especially traumatic. On top of the harsh rules they are now living under in a new location, there are countless reports of sexual violence, even forced marriages of very young girls to their assailants.
TRIPOLI, LIBYA — Since Moammar Gadhafi was ousted as Libya’s leader over a year ago, Egyptian officials have been intercepting large caches of weapons smuggled from Libya destined for black-market transfer to Syria and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
But in recent weeks the pattern of the arms shipments has shifted, according to officials, and fundamentalist Muslim groups in Egypt, known as Salafis, also are receiving the weapons.
GENEVA — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is appealing for $45 million to meet the emergency needs of women and children affected by the Malian crisis for the next three months. UNICEF says it has received little money so far to help a quarter-million people displaced inside Mali, as well as an estimated 170,000 refugees who have fled to neighboring Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
As soldiers in Mali continue working to root out armed militants, aid organizations are navigating rivers and mined roads to bring relief to communities affected by the fighting. Some 36,000 people have fled their homes since fighting began in January, but families who stayed also need help.
Aid agencies say families in northern Mali are running dangerously low on food.
Residents of the newly liberated Malian city of Timbuktu looted stores owned by Arabs and Tuaregs suspected of collaborating with Islamist militants who fled earlier this week.
Witnesses say Malian soldiers stood by while people stole almost everything they could lift up and carry. The occupiers had imposed strict Islamic law in the city, including a dress code and a ban on music.
A reporter on the ground in northern Mali says most Islamist militants have fled the city of Gao since last week, when French warplanes bombed their positions.
The VOA reporter in Gao said Tuesday that some militants have been spotted in the area - driving in trucks or riding motorbikes or hiding out in trees. But he adds it is clear the Islamists are not numerous or organized enough to continue applying the strict Sharia law they imposed after taking control of the city last April.
DAKAR — The Malian government has ordered all schools shut down in the capital and a nearby garrison town following demonstrations in the two cities. Some 800 kilometers south of the front line where the army is fighting to hold back Islamic militants, people are increasingly frustrated with a worsening economic situation and what many call government inaction.
All schools, from kindergarten to university, are closed until further notice in the Malian capital Bamako and the nearby garrison town of Kati about 15 kilometers away.
DAKAR, SENEGAL — Severe food shortages have hit 18 million people across nine countries this year in Africa's Sahel region, following unpredictable and insufficient rains. The region bordering the Sahara Desert has had three severe food crises in four years, and international aid agencies say it is time to break the cycle of food insecurity in the Sahel.
As this year's emergency winds down, the question on aid workers' minds is, "How can the Sahel break from its recurring cycle of food crises?"